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Reviewed by Hilary Hawkes for Readers' Favorite
Ghost in the Forest by Sue Cauhape is a story based in a wild and mountainous region, home to lions and deer as well as the human population at nearby Morristown. Dori, in her early thirties, spends most of her time hidden away in her deceased parents’ old cottage, or at work. She loves her dog, Buster, and hiking. She has little time for the newly arrived bikers who career around the tracks. When one young cyclist is accidentally killed by a hunting cougar, she finds herself at odds with some locals as well as the father of the victim. Dori’s low self-esteem and difficulty with trust and finding love worsens as she quits her job and suffers the loss of Buster. But Dori has uncovered a secret about her past. Will she gain the courage to find better relationships and the life that feels right for her sensitive and nature-loving self?
Sue Cauhape is an excellent writer and storyteller, and Ghost in the Forest is a well-plotted tale. The characters are all very believable and well-defined – I felt a great empathy with Dori and liked the way her confidence and courage changed, and then grew through the situations she encountered. There are some lovely descriptive pieces in the story which bring the detail of the mountains and the animals’ habitats to life. I loved this author’s use of language in general. Of Dori’s character and life, she says: “Regardless of her choices, she enjoyed her life so far. It was serene, attached to a reality she could never expect others to understand…the gentle salve of nature. Stories to feed her dreams…” And there are thoughtful comparisons of the innocent and natural way animals live with the, at times, humans’ arrogance over their perceived rights and superiority.
Dori’s past experiences have left her lonely and introverted, but the reader sees that her perceptive nature and deep thinking eventually lead to the discoveries that give her courage and new beginnings. This vivid and emotional story also raises awareness of the needs of animals that share the planet with us, and our need to respect and understand their behaviours and instincts. An enjoyable read. Loved it. Recommended.